Research Suggests Statins Could Lower Ovarian Cancer Risk

A genetic study has found evidence to suggest that women who take statins in the long term could be less likely to develop ovarian cancer, according to new research funded by Cancer Research UK published recently.

The same result was also found in women who carry the BRCA1/2 gene fault. Having the BRCA1/2 fault puts women at a higher risk of ovarian cancer than the general population.

The research published in JAMA studied genes and the extent to which they inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase – which is responsible for regulating cholesterol in the body – and is the exact enzyme targeted by statin drugs to reduce cholesterol.

While the study suggests that statins could lower ovarian cancer risk, more research needs to be done specifically looking at their use and impact on women’s risk of developing the disease.

The researchers based at the University of Bristol looked at 63,347 women between the ages of 20 and 100 years old, of whom 22,406 had ovarian cancer. They also looked at an additional 31,448 women who carried the BRCA1/2 fault, of whom 3,887 had ovarian cancer. The study used an approach called Mendelian randomization, which involves analysing the genetic data from thousands of people.

Statins may protect against the development of ovarian cancer because they’ve been shown to induce apoptosis – one of the body’s ways of getting rid of old, faulty or infected cells – and to stop tumours from growing in laboratory studies. Another line of thought is that statins lower circulating cholesterol, which helps regulate cell growth, though this research suggests that lower circulating cholesterol was not the method by which statins may reduce ovarian cancer risk.

The findings suggest that long-term statin use could be associated with an estimated 40% reduction in ovarian cancer risk in the general population, although the estimate comes from looking at gene variation rather than statins themselves, and the exact mechanism by which these genes are associated with lower ovarian cancer risk is unclear.

Ovarian cancer is the 6th most common cancer in women in the UK. There are around 7,400 cases each year, and out of those with a known stage at diagnosis, almost 6 in 10 are diagnosed at a late stage. Around 4,100 women die from the disease every year in the UK.

There is no test that reliably picks up ovarian cancer at an early stage, so chemoprevention could be an important approach to saving lives.

Professor Richard Martin, from the University of Bristol, said: “Our findings open up the possibility of repurposing a cheap drug to help prevent ovarian cancer – especially in women who are at a higher risk. It’s incredibly interesting that women whose bodies naturally inhibit the enzyme targeted by statins have a lower risk of ovarian cancer, but we don’t recommend anyone rushes to take statins specifically to reduce ovarian cancer risk because of this study.

“It’s a promising result and I hope it sparks more research and trials into statins to demonstrate conclusively whether or not there’s a benefit.”

Dr Rachel Orritt, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager, said: “This study is a great first step to finding out if statins could play a role in lowering ovarian cancer risk, and justifies future research into this area.

“But there’s not yet enough evidence to know if statins themselves could reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer safely. And it’s important to remember that the risk of developing ovarian cancer depends on many things including age, genetics and environmental factors. Speak to your doctor first if you have any concerns about your risk.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Low-Dose Aspirin May Protect Against Ovarian Cancer: Study

Regular use of low-dose aspirin may the reduce risk of ovarian cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 205,000 American women and found that those who reported recent, regular use of low-dose aspirin (defined as 100 milligrams or less) had a 23 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than those who did not regularly take aspirin.

The risk did not fall the longer women used low-dose aspirin.

Also, the study didn’t prove that aspirin lowered cancer risk, just that there was an association. And taking standard-dose aspirin (325 milligrams) was not associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

On the flip side, taking 10 or more tablets per week of non-aspirin NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, for a number of years may be associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, the study authors said.

“What really differentiated this study from prior work was that we were able to analyze low-dose aspirin separately from standard-dose aspirin,” said study leader Mollie Barnard, who conducted the research while a doctoral student at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Our findings emphasize that research on aspirin use and cancer risk must consider aspirin dose,” she added in a Harvard news release.

Barnard is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. There’s growing evidence that inflammation plays a role in the development of this cancer. It’s believed that aspirin may lower ovarian cancer risk by reducing inflammation.

“More research is needed to figure out which women can benefit most from taking low-dose aspirin to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer,” study senior author Shelley Tworoger, associate center director of population science at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., said in the news release. Moffitt scientists were involved in the study.

Source: HealthDay


Today’s Comic

What Every Woman Needs to Know About Ovarian Cancer

Women need to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer and see a doctor if they have them, an ob-gyn expert says.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of death in American women, claiming more lives than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, according to the American Cancer Society.

About 22,240 women in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease in 2018, and over 14,000 will die from it, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

“Any woman who experiences unexplained bloating, an upset stomach, an urgency to urinate or abdominal pain for a few weeks, should go see a doctor, and if her doctor does not take these symptoms seriously, she should see another doctor,” said Dr. Stephanie Blank. She is director of gynecologic oncology for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

Other symptoms include pelvic pain, fatigue, unexplained weight change, and abnormal bleeding or any bleeding after menopause.

“Too often, women are sent to the wrong doctor, or [are] told they’re just aging or gaining weight when experiencing these kinds of symptoms, and by then they have lost valuable time,” Blank said in a Mount Sinai news release.

Women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer before it has spread have a five-year survival of 93 percent, researchers have found. But detection of ovarian cancer is difficult and often delayed.

Women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are at increased risk for ovarian cancer, and the risk for all women increases with age. Half of all ovarian cancers are diagnosed in women who are 63 and older.

Long-term use of birth control pills reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by about 50 percent, according to the news release. Removing fallopian tubes and ovaries is the best means of ovarian cancer prevention, but is not appropriate for all women.

Source: HealthDay

Opinion: Most Women Should Forgo Ovarian Cancer Screening

The potential harms of ovarian cancer screening outweigh the benefits, so only very specific groups of women should be screened for the disease, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says in a draft recommendation.

“The task force found that screening women without signs or symptoms for ovarian cancer does not decrease the number of deaths from the disease, and may lead to unnecessary surgeries,” Dr. Maureen Phipps said in a news release from the USPSTF.

“Therefore, the task force recommends against screening for ovarian cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms, and who are not at high risk for ovarian cancer,” she said. Phipps is a member of the task force, which is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.

The new guidance reaffirms a 2012 final recommendation made by the USPSTF.

Task force chair Dr. David Grossman said that “the current screening tests do not do a good job identifying whether a woman does or does not have ovarian cancer.”

The USPSTF “hopes that, in the future, better screening tests for ovarian cancer will be developed,” he added.

The draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review are posted for public comment on the task force website. Comments can be submitted from July 18 through Aug. 14.

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth most common cause of cancer death among women in the United States, the USPSTF said.

Current screening tests for ovarian cancer aren’t very accurate, and may indicate a woman has ovarian cancer when she doesn’t, according to the task force. These false-positive tests can lead to unnecessary major surgery to remove one or both ovaries, the panel members said.

The USPSTF noted that no other major medical organization recommends screening for ovarian cancer among women in the general population.

Source: HealthDay


Today’s Comic